Funnybook Babylon

May 11, 2012

Azzarello and Chiang’s Excellent Adventure

Filed under: Blurbs,Reviews — Tags: , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 1:14 pm

I loved everything about the first few issues of Azzarello and Chiang’s Wonder Woman. When Chiang was briefly rotated off the title, my love dimmed, even though Akins is a more than capable artist. Chiang returned to the series for the seventh issue, but I fear that it’s too late. My love has faded.

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July 26, 2010

Batman and Robin #13 – “Batman and Robin Must Die! Part 1: The Garden of Death”

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 10:14 am
Brief Bloom.

Brief Bloom.

Batman and Robin continues, beginning the “Batman and Robin Must Die!” arc, which Morrison has stated is “R.I.P. as farce.” Each issue is named after a classic gothic painting; this one is “The Garden of Death” by Hugo Simberg, pictured above. Many shots and events in this book are deliberate evocations of events in “R.I.P.”, so I recommend a rereading before engaging in any close analysis of this story.

And, as usual, the links to my other annotations:

Stuff here (original Batman run, current Batman and Robin)

Stuff at Comics Alliance (Return of Bruce Wayne #1, #2, #3; Batman #700)
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May 17, 2010

Batmannotations: Batman and Robin #10-12 – “Batman vs. Robin”

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 8:54 pm

For those of you who missed it, I already annotated Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 over at Comics Alliance. You’ll continue to find those annotations there, while Batman and Robin will remain here.

It’s been a while and there’ s a lot to talk about, so let’s get into it.
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March 15, 2010

Batman and Robin #s 8 and 9 – “Blackest Knight” Parts 2 and 3: “Batman vs. Batman” and “Broken”

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 2:56 pm
Batman and Robin #8

Batman and Robin #8
Batman and Robin #9

Batman and Robin #9

After the extensive infodump of last issue, these two issues are FAR more streamlined as we ramp up to “Batman vs. Batman” and the return of Bruce Wayne. In this installment: The Bug Black Voice of Gotham City! The Bible of Crime! And… Batwoman! Come back soon for Batman and Robin #10, and a look into the Wayne family’s lineage, but until then let’s see what further clues we can divine from “Blackest Knight.”

Additionally, I’d like to give a shout-out to the superb amypoodle at the always-sublime Mindless Ones, who put together an insanely compelling counter-theory to mine about Simon Hurt. It’s great stuff, and you should really check it out, as I’ll certainly be keeping it in mind in the months ahead.
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January 28, 2010

Batman and Robin #6 and #7

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 9:07 am
Batman and Robin #6

Batman and Robin #6
Batman and Robin #7

Batman and Robin #7

The #6 annotations are so late partly because the issue seemed rather sparse to me and partly because Gavok over at 4thletter! just completely demolished the landscape of any of my commentary, so what’s below regarding that issue is heavily indebted to his realization about the nature of the story. Then, below, commentary on today’s #7, which is detailed and byzantine and littered with references and basically my wet dream as an annotator.
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January 15, 2010

Final Crisis Annotations Epilogue: The Hardcover

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , — David Uzumeri @ 2:13 pm

Yeah, this is incredibly anal, but after the ridiculous amount of time I spent studying this book, I’d be remiss not to cap this off with a look at the collected edition.

But first, since I don’t think I’ve ever linked them at once like this: here are all of the original annotations/articles I wrote upon the book’s initial release.
Final Crisis #1
Final Crisis #2
Final Crisis #3
Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1
Final Crisis #4
Final Crisis #5
Final Crisis #6
Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2
Final Crisis: Superman Beyond – On Mandrakk
Final Crisis #7

So: a catalogue of, as far as I can tell, every single change made to Final Crisis from single issue to collected edition. A lot of them are pretty interesting, and clear up stuff that I remember myself or other annotators pointing out. I’ve bolded the ones that are major, or of special interest (the one about the Anthro painting being in Gotham rather than NYC has rather interesting potential repercussions for the Return of Bruce Wayne storyline).
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January 3, 2010

Bruce Wayne: A Man of Wealth and Taste (Batmannotations Gaiden)

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , — David Uzumeri @ 8:25 pm

What if there were an ultimate villain out there, unseen? An absolute mastermind, closing in for the kill? What if there existed an invisible, implacable foe who’d calculated my every weakness? Who had access to allies, weapons and tactics I couldn’t imagine. An adversary whose plots and grand designs were so vast, so elaborate, that they went unnoticed… until it was too late. How could I prepare for a challenge like that? Would I have the resources to deal with it? I’ve often wondered. If my hypothetical ultimate enemy can be imagined, I can’t help considering the possibility that he actually exists. Breathing… feels like drowning. And if he exists… if the king of crime is real… is he telling me his name?

– Bruce Wayne, Batman #674

From Batman #666

From Batman #666

By the time we were about halfway through Batman R.I.P., and our esteemed British colleagues the Mindless Ones were divining hints from ancient Chinese wisdom, and I was still rambling on and on and on about goddammit no seriously they WILL reveal Alfred as the villain, there’s one thing we all agreed on: whether or not Simon Hurt was actually supposed to be the literal Devil, he certainly was a metaphorical one.

The question is – what’s the significance of that? If Simon Hurt is the Devil – or, as our li’l buddy Damian states there to the left, “may as well be” the Devil – then what does that mean? What, for all practical purposes, is the Devil?
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October 7, 2009

Batman and Robin #5 – “Revenge of the Red Hood Part Two: Scarlet”

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , — David Uzumeri @ 6:50 pm
Batman and Robin #5

Batman and Robin #5

As suspected by a few people in last month’s comment thread, the Red Hood is in fact the obvious option, Jason Todd. So that entire mystery’s away from us, although the domino killer and Man-On-Gargoyle are still milling around, not to mention Oberon Sexton.

Philip Tan’s art in this issue is rather confusing and unclear with regards to the storytelling, especially on the fifth page, so I’ll try to disentangle some of those things as we go.
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September 22, 2009

Pull List Reviews for September 16th

Daredevil: The ListDark Reign: The List – Daredevil
by Andy Diggle & Billy Tan

Bad art can ruin even the best of stories, but lesser known is its ability to obscure mediocre writing. Billy Tan’s art in this issue is bad: it’s static during action sequences featuring ninjas, masked superhero gymnastics and government agents rappelling from the roof. Tan’s talking sequences fail to display any emotion besides tension. As a result, at first glance, this art is terrible enough to hide a weak effort from Andy Diggle.

I wish Diggle had exercised some restraint here since the book’s “everything is rotten from the core” vibe already wears out its welcome by the time the corrupt judge shows up six pages in. When we finally see Norman Osborn, he is exhaling pure evil. It’s not as if Daredevil hasn’t tangled with some sinister dudes before, but the moral conflicts and ethical backsliding that had been the bedrock of Bendis and Brubaker’s Daredevil runs begin to feel less complex when Murdock is trying to take down the next Hitler.

Diggle’s overplaying of the systemic corruption moves Daredevil from a troubled man trying to straighten up a clan of killer evil ninjas to the leader of a band of freedom fighters. Regardless of if Murdock succeeds here, his goal becomes noble enough to the reader that he will be redeemed in their eyes. This isn’t Diggle’s intent and this will push Matt away from the tipping point that has been teased since the title was relaunched back in 1999. It’s a shame since there was just so much farther he could have fallen.

-by Pedro Tejeda

Dark Avengers #9Dark Avengers #9
by Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, and Rain Beredo

In a week with a Grant Morrison Batman comic and a new volume of Pluto, somehow I think I enjoyed these 22 pages the most. Bendis’s recent work has gotten slagged on a lot – sometimes deservedly – but I think this is a solid crystallization of everything that makes his style work: Character, Character, Character. The cover promises Ares versus Fury in a glocks-versus-battle-ax contest to the death, and I’m glad the cover lied because the mature conversation inside is so, so, so much better. Then Bendis drops a shock ending bomb on you, one he’s clearly been waiting to drop forever, and one that works pretty well at eliciting an “OH SHIT!” from almost anybody invested in the Marvel status quo right now.

But Bendis isn’t even really the main reason. Mike Deodato fucking shines on this comic, with interesting but clear panel layouts, especially in the middle section. This guy has really evolved from a tits ‘n muscles artist in the ’90s to a guy who, despite his propensity for swaying hips, constantly tries to make his panel layouts interesting (and still clear) – check out the “Ares smash!” two-page spread to see what I mean. He’s good with balls-out action and talking heads (as displayed near the end with the Dark Avengers just chillin’ and chattin’), versatile enough to move from the everyday to the extraordinary and make it seem like it’s in the same world. I’m willing to take his (increasingly rarer) propensities towards T&A in stride as long as he keeps turning in superb storytelling like this.

– by David Uzumeri

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #1Vengeance of the Moon Knight #1
“Shock & Awe Chapter 1”
by Gregg Hurwitz & Jerome Opena

I haven’t paid attention to the Moon Knight book for years, and viewed him as a third-rate Batman suffering from mental illness. But sometimes a comic doesn’t have to be original to be entertaining. We’ve all become familiar with the use of the super-hero narrative to explore identity and mental illness. Not only that, but the story of a lone man who must do battle with a crazed totalitarian state is older than John Galt. So what sets Vengeance of the Moon Knight apart from the crowd? The art. Gregg Hurwitz turns in a competent script, but Jerome Opena transforms what could have been a banal book into an entertaining romp.

The first issue sets the status quo – Moon Knight is a hero who is in the midst of an identity crisis. Will he be the restrained old-school hero who avoids unnecessary violence or a brutal vigilante close to the edge? We see MK elegantly dispatch armed bank robbers and escape from the authorities with ease in the first half of the book, which unfolds like a slick action movie filled with bright colors and unambiguous victories. In the second half, we begin to see the cracks in the facade – the criminals from Heat have been replaced with the degenerates in Taxi Driver, Moon Knight’s resolve is tested, and his instability becomes more apparent: the voices in his head/ghosts that haunt him become clearer. There are shadows everywhere, and triumph is replaced with temptation. An atmosphere of fear lurks in the background, with the visage of Norman Osborn staring at us from billboards and video screens. And that’s without even looking at the words.

– by Jamaal Thomas

September 18, 2009

Jamaal Reviews Amazing Spider-Man #604

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 7:00 pm

Amazing Spider-Man #604Amazing Spider-Man #604
“Red-Headed Stranger pt. 3: The Ancient Gallery”
by Fred Van Lente & Barry Kitson

I’m one of those fans who opposed the One More Day storyline because I think that characters should always be allowed to develop and grow. In the great conflict between those who view mainstream superhero comics as a continuing narrative and those who view them primarily as part of a broader strategy to manage valuable intellectual property, I thought OMD was a victory for the latter camp: a victory of commerce over art. Why? It’s not the decision to end the marriage between the characters of Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, but the rationales offered, many of which were based on returning to a more ‘classic’ portrayal of the character (that would also make him easier to market and package on different platforms). Although there have been a handful of strong arcs in the months following the “Brand New Day” soft reboot of the Spider-Man family of titles, they only reinforced my ambivalence about the new direction. Dan Slott, Marc Guggenheim, Mark Waid, and Joe Kelly’s fun take on the book would have been equally effective before the reboot. However, with the three-part “Red-Headed Stranger” arc, I think that Fred Van Lente has written a fun, light, compelling story that actually benefits from the new status quo.
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David Reviews The Shield #1

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 2:00 pm

The Shield #1 cover
The Shield #1
“Kicking Down the Door pt. 1”
by Eric Trautmann & Marco Rudy
“Burning Inside pt. 1”
by Brandon Jerwa & Greg Scott

The first thing that struck me about this was how much it differed – in a good way – from J. Michael Straczynski’s lead-in that capped off his Red Circle series of one-shots. Where Straczynski combined the traditional Captain America super-soldier origin with stock scenes heavily inspired by Generation Kill and added on a layer of military conspiracy to tie it in with the other Red Circle stories, Trautmann creates an early-career super-soldier who isn’t fighting as morally convincing a war as Captain America was, and as a result, is forced to operate a bit more cynically.
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Pedro Reviews Models, Inc. #1

Models, Inc. #1Models, Inc. #1
“Models, Inc. pt1” by Paul Tobin & Vicenc Villagrasa
“Loaded Gunn” by Marc Sumerak & Jorge Molina

Reality television has probably taught me more about modeling and fashion than any other source. Maybe it’s this skewed vision that makes Models, Inc. feel like such a throwback to times past. I feel like Tobin’s story takes place in a world that hasn’t existed in ages. Even though several aspects of the story — like Chili Pepper’s outing — are obviously modern, Villagrasa’s art evokes the Mod 1960s, when the idea of modeling was more fresh, glamorous and fun. The book has none of the eating disorders, fierce competitiveness, or other aspects that seem to populate the seedy underbelly of modern modeling. It’s a decision that fits the tone of the book, even if I wasn’t fully engaged with the plot. I didn’t connect with any of the characters as they felt too light. Only three of the characters seemed to have any conflict and Millie being accused of murder was the only conflict I was remotely interested in. The art itself was adequate, but one of the two inkers was clearly stronger and detailed than the other. I did enjoy Tobin’s dialogue, which kept the characters, especially the models, from being flat. But I’m not sure that’s enough to make me come back to see what happens next.
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September 16, 2009

Batman and Robin #4 – “Revenge of the Red Hood Part One: Red Right Hand”

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , — David Uzumeri @ 6:04 pm
Batman and Robin #4

Batman and Robin #4

Again, a link to what’s come before.

The immediate interpretation of the issue title is the Nick Cave song of the same name, but its use within the issue makes it pretty clear that while that may have been an inspirational source, the context in which it’s used in the issue relates more to Milton’s “Paradise Lost” – which isn’t to say the song doesn’t eerily parallel the promises Red Hood is trying to sell Scarlet.

Philip Tan comes on as artist for this arc, and it’s certainly very different from Frank Quitely; losing Alex Sinclair as colorist gets rid of the posterized sky effects, and Tan’s art style owes way more to his time on Spawn than any precedent Quitely set, all stark shadows and straightforward panel layouts. This is a much darker look than what Quitely offered.

But anyway: new story, new start. Let’s go!
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September 15, 2009

Batmannotation Catch-Up: Batman and Robin #2-3

First off, a link to what’s come before.

With #4 hitting this Wednesday, I figured it was high time to get back into the game and take a look at the latest two issues of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Batman and Robin. I just reread Morrison’s entire Batman run to refresh my memory, so I’m good and ready – here goes!

Well, maybe I *do*, asshole!

Well, maybe I *do*, asshole!

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July 27, 2009

Working Through the Pile: Pedro’s MoCCA Haul

Filed under: Reviews — Pedro Tejeda @ 8:38 pm

One of the things left off of our MoCCA podcast was the amazing amount of material we purchased at the show. Isn’t that the point of MoCCA: to discover new books and get the hotness everyone keeps talking about? If I don’t walk away with less money in my pocket and a pile of books to read through, I wouldn’t be able to say that I had a good time. This MoCCA was no different than previous shows, but I did find my selections partly driven by my experience reading Denis Barjam’s Universal War One.
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